Ingrid Betancourt, former senator and Colombian presidential candidate:Thank you very much Madam Rajavi for inviting us today to reflect with you and with the Iranian people about something that is dramatic but that give us hope.
We have been longing for this moment so many years. When I was looking at the footage of the uprising, I was called to mind that we have a duty, all of us working in our governments, in our parliaments when we decide to be part of the people in the world that have to reflect on what's happening in the world. Our duty is to read the signs of time. It's very difficult to read the signs of time. It's easy to read it in history books afterwards but when you see these images, it's very difficult to try to understand what they mean. But when you have a tool like democracy, the signs of time are written by the vote of the people. This is why democracy is so important. This doesn't happen in a dictatorship, because in a dictatorship, dictators think that they know better than the people they say they are serving. And this is what is happening in Iran.
This protest began like a claim, or a protest against inflation, economic problem and it turned into a nationwide uprising to overthrow the regime. That's the sign of time that we need to read. This is not an isolated or non-organized or spontaneous incident in Iran. What is amazing is that with all this paraphernalia of silence that the regime has built around Iran, we are able to see the images and that the whole world is now seeing what is happening in Iran, and as Madame Rajavi was saying and I think this is a crucial theme, things will never be the same in Iran after what has been happening. And this has lots of consequences.
Consequences that have to also make us change the way we look at Iran and tune or claims as citizens of this world and as people that have influence in our countries, in our governments and in our constituencies. Of course, this is linked with poverty, with hunger, with misery, destitution, with unemployment, in fact most of the people that have been arrested after the protests are students, unemployed students, but there is also grassroots.
The official numbers are around 4,000 people arrested, we know that there are like 8000. There are ordinary people, street vendors, people that are in the streets, living and trying to make a living and if this is about unemployment and poverty, this is also about a claim and the protest against corruption and against state crime. So, the protest is calling not only for the inflation to stop or for a better economic policy, it's calling for a radical change of regime. And for me what is really striking, because I have been with Madame Rajavi for so many years, is to hear the people in Iran far away from where we are, with the same slogans I have been hearing from Madame Rajavi for so many years here in France.
What this means for me is that if there's something that the regime got right this time, is that yes they are right when they say that there is a direct link between the protests and the Iranian resistance. It's not only the same slogans. It's also the same objectives. The Iranian resistance has been fighting the regime to offer to the Iranian people a peaceful change of regime. And this is what all these people want there. They want democracy. They don't want to have another election that is a false election and to have only the candidate of the regime being able to present themselves and to be able to choose between the most corrupt and the not so corrupt one or between the criminal of 10,000, or the criminal of 8,000.
They want new people at the head of their country. And this is what we have been discussing here for so many years. So, the only thing I wanted to point out today is that we need to go a step further in our claims and in the pressure we put on our governments. It's not enough to hear the government of our countries say that they are supporting the protesters and that they are sympathizing with the uprising people in Iran, but that they still support the nuclear deal. That's unacceptable because it's hypocritical. You cannot be saying that you are with the people of Iran and supporting a nuclear deal that is giving oxygen to the dictators that are killing these people in the streets.
If we want to be coherent, we need to have a policy that points fingers where those fingers have to be pointed. We cannot have a policy of appeasement, when we have the people of Iran telling us that they want no more appeasement with this regime, but they want the support of all of us for the change to a democracy, where civil rights are going to be granted, where death penalty is going to be abolished, where misogyny is going to be thrown out of the constitution, where a regime that will grant a division between the religion and the state, and this will not happen if we think that we can continue having good relations with the devil.
We cannot continue thinking that it's okay to make money for our enterprises dealing with the regime that is exporting terrorism to our countries. It's not about Syria and it's not about the Hezbollah, it's about financing terrorism here in Europe and in the rest of the world. So, reading the signs of time is understanding the basis of opportunity, to get rid of that regime, to recognize the legitimacy of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, whose president is Madame Rajavi. This is what we need to obtain from our countries and this is, I believe, the responsibility and some our homework for the days to come. Thank you.